Ryan L. Fox
Normally when the New England Patriots were going to play a Thursday night game, it was usually after a win, they would host at home, and everybody would be confident that they could knock out anybody that came onto the field. This time around, the Patriots are hobbling after losing a stunner against the Carolina Panthers, had to head down to Tampa Bay to play the Buccaneers, and there were way too many questions on defense for any Pats fan or media member to be confident about. Not to mention that news broke out earlier in the day that TE Rob Gronkowski would miss the game with a thigh injury that suddenly popped up on Wednesday.
But even with the odds stacked against them, there was a reason why the New England Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champions and why Tom Brady is considered to be one of the greatest quarterbacks to ever play the game.
Things started to get off on the wrong foot for the visiting Patriots. After receiving the opening kickoff and driving down the field, QB Tom Brady overthrew WR Chris Hogan and into the waiting clutched of Bucs backup FS Justin Evans. However for Pats fans, the Bucs couldn’t capitalize on the early turnover.
After a series of punts, the Pats were able to get on the board first thanks to a 27-yard field goal by K Stephen Gostkowski to go up early 3-0. After that, both teams then exchanged touchdowns between each other (an 11-yard run by Bucs RB Doug Martin & then a 5-yd TD pass from Brady to Hogan) as the Pats held onto a 10-7 with less than 4:00 left to play in the quarter. Another Gostkowski field goal pushed the Pats’ lead to 13-7 as that’s were it remained at the end of the first half.
The Pats then pulled even further ahead thanks to a third field by Gostkowski to make it 16-7 as it looked like the Pats were starting to get back on the right track. After forcing the Bucs to punt, the Pats were driving the ball and it looked like they were gonna go for the kill. However on 2nd and 4 on the Bucs 43, Bucs LB Adarius Glanton rushed in untouched and stripped sacked Brady, allowing DE Will Clarke to recover the ball. But like the first Brady turnover, the Bucs couldn’t capitalize on it and were forced to punt on the ensuing drive..
The game became closer than expected late in the 4th quarter. The Bucs pulled within two thanks to an 18-yd touchdown from QB Jameis Winston to TE Cameron Brate to make it 16-14. However Gostkowski kicked his fourth field goal (this time a 48-yd) with under 1 minute remaining in the game to push the lead to 19-14. Winston drove the Bucs down the field but on the last play of the game, he could not find rookie TE O.J. Howard over the middle. The ball was batted away incomplete and the Pats escaped Tampa Bay with a much needed 19-14 victory.
Patriot Top Performers
QB Tom Brady: 30-for-40 for 303 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT, 1 FUM
RB Dion Lewis: 7 rushes for 53 yards, 2 catches for 10 yards
WR Danny Amendola: 8 catches for 77 yards
WR Brandin Cooks: 5 catches for 85 yards
WR Chris Hogan: 8 catches for 74 yards, 1 TD
RB James White: 2 carry for 3 yards, 7 catches for 57 yards
K Stephen Gostkowski: 4-for-4 FG, 1-for-1 XP, 13 points
SS Devin McCourty: 11 tackles (11 solo)
Cause for Concern?
There really should be a cause for concern for Pats TE Rob Gronkowski. On Wednesday, it first came out that Gronk suffered some sort of thigh injury that ultimately kept him out of the game. Given his injury history, this is a red flag since there were no reports of any thigh problems for Gronk prior to the Week 4 match-up against the Carolina Panthers. Already Brady is missing Julian Edelman and if Gronk ends up going down for an extended period of time then
What’s With the Flags?!
I know that Thursday Night Football is a time where teams show off there Color Rush uniforms but the color that everybody was seeing a lot of was yellow. There was a combined 21 penalties for a combined 183 yards (12 for 113 for the Pats and 9 for 70 for the Bucs). Of course you had your questionable calls (i.e. a big block by LT Nate Solder that ended up being called a ‘low block’) but it just seems that the refs were just a little too quick on the whistle for my liking.
Fox Fist Bump
This week, it goes to none other than….K Stephen Gostkowski. On an ugly night in Tampa, nobody was more clutch than #3. He went 4-for-4 on field goals (raising him to a perfect 12-for-12 on the year) and 1-for-1 on extra points, including kicking a 48-yd field goal with under a minute to go to give his team a 19-14 lead.
Turd in the Punch Bowl
Normally this goes to a Patriots player who was awful but my god, Bucs kicker Nick Folk made Roberto Aguayo look like Morten Anderson. A missed 56-yd field goal before halftime, a missed 49-yd field goal to begin the 4th quarter, and then a missed 31-yd field goal when his team needed points the most. Just think, if he actually hit a field goal (especially that 31-yd), then his team would have been down 19-17 with 3 seconds to go on the Pats 19 and needed only a field goal to win.
Play of the Game
Sorry folks….none were worthy.
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